Sometimes, I don’t have to do very much.
As an American, I don’t have to be a certain religion, or have any religion at all. My humanity doesn’t require me to act any way in particular; no dialect controls my speech and no attitude dominates my mood (unless I want to be grumpy, but that’s just fun). I don’t have to vote and I don’t have to work. Nobody forces me to think or to eat healthy foods. Exercise too, is optional.
I can be whatever I want to be (I’m just not guaranteed success) and it’s entirely acceptable. Some people might not like what I choose to do or not to do, but they have every right to do so. Americans experience an obscene amount of freedom. Well, mostly. I can’t legally steal. And I can’t truly stab someone like I say I will. I think I might even get into trouble for telling the wrong person that I’d do something like that. I can’t speed, either- that really sucks. The consequences to setting something on fire weigh heavily enough on me that I have yet to do that, too. Even little things like lying on certain types of paperwork and texting while driving are illegal here.
Cops terrified me before I knew Jesus. Even now, having an officer drive behind me elicits more trepidation than I’d like to admit to, that’s mostly because I’d break the law on accident and know nothing about it until I got busted. Other people seem to have similar complaints- They might not even know that they’re breaking a law they’re held accountable to. Inevitably, this leads to a complaint that America doesn’t provide the freedom she once did, but I venture that we’re looking at freedom the wrong way…
The first colonies were established by freedom-seekers. People who had no desire to live under a government religion took off on their own hoping to create a life built on liberty. This same attitude followed as a society took shape, broke free from the countries who had interests in building empires, and became its own nation. The Constitution that protects our freedom and the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments that added to that safeguarded liberty remind Americans that they’re freer than a lot of the rest of the world.
Galatians five begins, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” That sounds like I can do whatever I want, but a few verses later, Paul states, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” Ugh. Seems like I can’t do whatever I want-that’s a bloody shame. It seems that Paul isn’t exclusively talking about a freedom to do, but is including a freedom from.
Jews got saved from the law. Pagans were saved from superstition and weird crap. All these people gained a freedom to do do certain things, but were free from restrictions on diet, thought and intention even association. We are no different. We might not be able to do whatever we please, but when we think about it, most rules are there to protect us from ourselves or each other anyway, so perhaps God’s prohibition against drunkenness or lechery aren’t such a bad thing anyway.